All righty, having announced the winner of the Barker contest, it is high time to announce the winners of the HC travel tips contest. All entries—all uniformly creative and interesting--win or lose will appear in the Rough Guide to the Hill Cantons. A big hearty thank you to all who entered.
And the winner is...err...are...
Allandros (aka Ba Chim in the campaign) AND the husband and wife team of Mack (Mandamus) & Monica (Uma).
Snippet from the pen of Allandros:
A Landsknecht’s Guide to the Borderlands
Fellow landsknecht, if you find yourself near Marlankh or its environs, you have likely made some extremely questionable choices in your life. While recent conflict with the nearby Brazonians may be brewing, and you may have heard tales of the Marlankh Reavers and their glory, the Hill Cantons are not generally conducive to the large battles of maneuver that are so beloved to us condotierre. Indeed, combats here are often small in scale, brutal, quick, and soon over. At least in the more civilized segments of the cantons, your foes may engage in some amount of verbal badinage.
How, then, is a landsknecht to survive here in the hinterlands?
I shall answer this by asking another question. What makes a landsknecht?
It is not the sword. It is not the hat or the clothes. All these are necessary, but ultimately it is the reputation of the name “landsknecht.” It is the knowledge of fearless combat while the odds are reasonable, of adherence to contract and utter punctiliousness when it comes to the receipt of pay. It is the knowledge that the landsknecht is capable of dealing with both the civilized and the exotic, because of their membership in that august company.
Reputation. Your garb, the puffed sleeves, the jaunty hat, the bright colors – these mark you as a lord of war! They mark you as a being of decision, prowess, and ability. The more striking your garb, the better you can signal your ability to both honor and breach the custom and practice of the civilized lands. But in the hinterlands of Marlankh, this does not necessarily come through for the residents here. And thus, it falls to you to bring the reputation of the landsknecht forward, advancing both it and your own name.
Snippet from Mack and Monica:
The Eye of Huakuawa
The Chronicles of the Second Epoch tell us that when the Rod of Aaqa was shattered during the great Battle of Pesh, one of the fragments of this artifact fell into the Eye of Huakuawa. While some sages speculate that the Eye lies in the face of giant or a godling, it is in fact not a visual organ, but actually a natural landmark.
The Eye of Huakuawa lies deep within the jungles of the Southlands. This body of water is a spring-fed, oval-shaped pool in a deep valley, approachable from a narrow path down the side of the canyon. Visitors descending the path notice, palm trees on the other side of the Eye springs up, slightly overhanging the spring like eyelashes, even as the jungle growth further back resembles an eyebrow. The pool is surrounded by white sand, and the water itself is light blue on the edges, but the spring bubbling up in the center gives the water a darker tint, much like a pupil.
Long ago, a tribe of jungle dwellers worshiped the spirit of the Eye and served to protect it from outside intruders. To this day, if a descendant of the Eye’s servants is poisoned or cursed, that individual will be drawn to they Eye for healing. Someone summoned by the Eye will instinctively be drawn toward it, they will not speak to anyone and must be physically restrained to prevent them from wandering in its direction. The pool is guarded by werejaguars who attack anyone not summoned by the Eye. Its waters work as a healing potion or a remove curse spell, but only if consumed directly from the pool. Any liquid taken away from the Eye functions only as normal, if clear and refreshing, springwater.